Retelling fairy-tales

I love reboots and rewrites of fairy-tales and myths. I read Peter Morwood’s Prince Ivan not long ago, but found it a less appealing retelling than Mercedes Lackey’s ‘Firebird‘. I’m looking forward to seeing Hansel and Gretel, and enjoyed ‘Rise of the Guardians’. I have stacks of books on myths and legends from around the world. I’m currently editing (well, putting off editing, mostly,) my rewrite of The Wizard of Oz. So, you know, I’m keen.

Of course, they tend to be a very mixed bag. Ms Lackey does a lot of them, but they’re not all as good as ‘Firebird‘ – I liked ‘One Good Knight‘ but found ‘Fortune’s Fool‘ and ‘The Gates of Sleep‘ somewhat disappointing. ‘Ella Enchanted‘ was a fun, fluffy movie but so silly that it couldn’t be taken seriously – I haven’t read the book. ‘Daughter of the Forest‘ by Juliet Marillier was wonderfully written, but more than a little depressing (as any retelling of The Seven Swans would have to be, really). ‘The Mermaid’s Madness‘ by Jim C. Hines made me cry – he took the Little Mermaid and actually made her story way more depressing than the original! Very good, though, would recommend.

I often toy with the idea of writing these. It would certainly be fun, and derivative fiction is my strength – on the other hand, I worry that if I just stick to writing varying forms of fan-fiction, I’ll never get anything purely original finished. And I do want to do that – I have so many stories I want to tell. So maybe the rewrites should wait. But ‘Overlander Z’ is the only novel I’ve ever come close to actually finishing. So maybe I should go with what works? I don’t know. It’s a tough one.

Mobile City: Overlander Z‘ was always intended to be followed by other retellings. ‘Wonderland‘ and ‘Nautilus‘ were intended to be the next in the Mobile City series. As for retellings, my mother has an unexpurgated Grimm’s Fairy Tales that I used to read as a kid, which gave me some very interesting nightmares. There is one story that ends, I am so not kidding, with the ‘hero’ proving his gratitude to his Faithful Servant by beheading his own children. Gyah.  Still, there’s a lot of material in there.  And then there’s the Arabian Nights stories, and so many more myths and legends from around the world…

For now, I’m editing Overlander Z and trying my hand at romance. But the retellings are an interest that doesn’t seem to be going away, so… I don’t know. Time will tell. Meanwhile, anyone got any recommendations of other rewrites? I’d love to see them!

Tomorrow, in honour of the movie and my own enthusiasm for the subject, I’ll post my own attempt at a short rewrite of ‘Hansel and Gretel’. It’s creepy.


3 thoughts on “Retelling fairy-tales

  1. The Seventh Swan and The Stone Cage by NIcholas Stuart Gray (very highly recommended – these are the books which made me who I am). Fred Saberhagen’s retellings of Dracula. White as Snow by Tanith Lee.

  2. Well, it’s not at all your cup of tea, I know, but my favorite retelling is ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. It’s the best straight-up suspense novel I’ve ever read, and incredibly well-written — a well-told story inspired in equal parts by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and other 19th century vampire lit. It was written very early in King’s career, before he became too famous for editors to edit his work extensively, and as a result it’s taut, moves along at a wonderful clip, and builds to several interesting climaxes.

    (I really do think that King’s Mr. Barlow is the most frightening vampire I’ve ever come across, in any kind of literature.)

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